Sunday, December 27, 2015

The toenail trimming consumer

Customers, they are the most important part of any sales business. They can be (they ordinarily are) the best thing about sales, and at times the worst. At other times they can be downright odd and unusual, and even slightly disgusting. Disturbing, really.

I remember one guy who sat down while I was welding an end on his drain snake cable. He asked for a pair of wire cutters. So I gave him one, and commenced upon the repair.

He began unlacing his boots. I didn't think much about that; I really only barely noticed it and dismissed it immediately, almost without thought. He was probably just tightening or adjusting the boots, right?

Pulling enough steel cable out of his machine so as to be able to work with, I ground the end flat and secured it in my bench vice. After screwing in a fitting and tacking a weld to ensure it would stay, I shut off my torch and turned to tell him his repair was done. But my voice caught in my throat. He had his boots off and was trimming his toenails with my wire cutters. Talk about being a little too comfortable in your surroundings.

I said nothing. I turned back to my workbench and began tinkering with another repair. Eventually the man said, "Well, what do I owe you?"

'A new set of wire cutters', I should have said. Instead I just stammered something like, uh, ten bucks.

It was surely overreaction, for they were only wire cutters and had been used to cut far dirtier things than someone's toenails. In fact, that idea by itself added to my disgust at what he had done. But after the man left I picked the tool up with a pair of pliers and threw it away. I replaced them with a new pair that afternoon. I simply didn't want to use them after that incident, and boiling work tools (if you're not a surgeon) seems stupid.

To this day I cringe at the idea of someone arbitrarily trimming his toenails with my tools in my workshop. I mean, really? Why would it even occur to anyone to do that?

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